A New Approach to Spring Cleaning
It is time again to transition from winter to spring. As everything begins to bloom around us in a wash of colors and shades of green, we are reminded that it is time to shed the old and prepare for the new.
Spring-cleaning has always had the connotation of house cleaning for me. This year it is more holistic. Our bodies, homes and cars are a direct reflection of the chaos in our lives. When we are out of balance, we can see it in the amount of clutter surrounding us. For some, it is stored cleverly in closets and drawers. While others store it in the minds and bodies. Yet others don’t even try to hide it. You have probably walked into someone’s home (maybe even your own) and there is stuff everywhere. Stuff piled on stuff that is piled on more stuff. A path has been cleared to get from room to room but otherwise the floor is covered. Rather than letting go or dealing with it, we put it away for later. When, exactly, is later?
We often fall into cycles of blame and guilt. Liz Thompson writes, “A lot of people would rather blame others for the bad things that happen to them; from traffic mishaps, to property conflicts, to less than stellar product performances or even sibling rivalries and other everyday, and sometimes trivial, problems. Instead of looking deep within themselves or being the bigger person and choosing the higher path–involving patience, forgiveness, understanding and other good values–men and women with whatever age, race or background choose to point their fingers elsewhere.” We have forgotten how to own our actions by asking, “What was my part in all of this?” There are some people that go overboard and try to own the whole thing. That is equally destructive.
I have adapted the mantra, “No one is responsible for your happiness but yourself.” You cannot control other people, only your actions and reactions to them. What you put out is exactly what you receive. You have interacted with someone in a bad mood and it tints your emotions. Likewise, someone in a great mood often elevates the spirits of those around him or her. If no one is responsible for your happiness, then what is at the root of your unhappiness? Typically faulty mental models adopted out of messages from our childhood or perceived fears. Cleaning those out of our life can create space for healthier, more truthful beliefs such as you are worthy, loveable, amazing, sexy, intelligent, creative, and fun!
Now we will address the real cleaning. Start cleaning out those closets, cabinets, and drawers (or entire rooms for some of you) keeping in mind the question, “What is at the root of the unhappiness?” As you carry out bag after bag to the recycling bin, thrift store, or trash, ask yourself what are you really letting go? If you do this with the pure intention of understanding and healing so you can be happy, the answers will come. No one is responsible for your happiness but you.
Clean your body. Not just with a shower, though that is a great place to start (be conscious of water use, though). What are you eating? Why? What are your excuses for not being physically active? Get naked and stand in front of the mirror. This is your body. Take responsibility. You are beautiful, so be beautiful. No one is responsible for your happiness but you.
Clean your relationships. Are they healthy? If not, what role have you played in them? If they cannot be healthy, end them. Being alone is only scary for a minute. There is tremendous freedom that exists when you accept and embrace being alone as a positive growing space. It is where you learn who you are, what you like and dislike, what you will and will not compromise. It also opens the space for healthy relationships to develop. No one is responsible for your happiness but you.
Clean your mind. Take a look at the messages you send yourself daily. What are they? Where do they really come from? What do you really want in your life? Use that as a guidepost for directing thoughts. Thoughts become words and words become actions. No one is responsible for your happiness but you.
It is time to break through into that place where we have always wanted to reside. Choosing to be happy does not mean that bad things won’t happen. What it means is that you have the power to accept the situation and seek the best option(s) to move toward happiness, or you let it ruin not only your day but also the day of as many around you as possible. There will always be a time when it is critical to grieve and mourn. Only you know when those times are and what you need to do to grieve in a healthy manner. It does not have to last forever, though. You choose.